Professor and Child Welfare Center director will retire

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021

By Valerie Fields Hill 

School of Social Work

 Maria Scannapie
Maria Scannapieco

School of Social Work Professor Maria Scannapieco, a recognized researcher in adolescent mental health and child maltreatment and in Native American children’s issues, will retire this summer.


Dr. Scannapieco, a distinguished university professor and has led the School of Social Work’s Center for Child Welfare since 1996.


Scott Ryan, dean of the School, cited Dr. Scannapieco’s lengthy and extensive research work while announcing her retirement to faculty and staff.

“Dr. Scannapieco has over 150 publications and presentations in the areas of the impact of child maltreatment, out-of-home placement and youth aging out of foster care,” Dr. Ryan wrote in an email to the School’s instructors, academic administration and staff members, announcing the professor’s retirement.

“She has been an outstanding faculty member, colleague, mentor and friend to us all,” he wrote. “It has been an honor having her as part of our School of Social Work.”


The School will recognize Dr. Scannapieco and three other professors during an end-of-year faculty and staff gathering May 4. The four professors will receive plaques, among other recognitions, commemorating their years of service to students, the university and the community.


Social Work professors James Langford, Randy Basham, Pamela Fox and Catheleen Jordan also will retire in 2021, Dr. Ryan has announced. All of the professors have taught or served as administrators for years within the School of Social Work.


Dr. Scannapieco is co-author with former UTA professor Kirstin Painter of “Understanding the Mental Health Problems of Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Social Workers.” Earlier this year, the book’s publisher, Oxford University Press, released a second edition.


The text offers students, child welfare practitioners and others who work with children in distressed situations a guide to recognizing and understanding signs of childhood trauma, anxiety and other disorders such as ADHD, bipolar and opposition defiance and treatment options for those conditions. The text also explains why social workers should address such mental health issues using a strength- and trauma-informed perspective, according to the book’s description on Amazon.


Dr. Scannapieco also is co-author with Kelli Connell-Carrick of “Understanding Child Maltreatment: An Ecological and Developmental Perspective.” The book offers case studies involving child maltreatment and provides protective services workers with an understanding of how to assess and intervene in such cases.

In May 2012, Dr. Scannapieco published the article “Native American Indian Child Welfare System Change: Implementation of a Culturally Appropriate Practice Model Across Three Tribal Child Welfare Systems.”

The article addresses a lack of national resources available at that time to document how many Native American children were in foster care run by tribal organizations and to what extent those children faced abuse or neglect.


Dr. Scannapieco received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Child Welfare from the Council on Social Work Education in 2018. She received the Social Worker of the Year award from the National Association of Social Workers North Texas branch in 2019.

Dr. Scannapieco retires after serving 25 years (since 1996) as director of the Judith Birmingham Center for Child Welfare. The Birmingham Center is a research and resource center for the advancement and dissemination of information to improve the conditions of vulnerable children and their families. The center equips child welfare practitioners with research-based information offering models and ways to support the development and perseverance of children and families.


Dr. Scannapieco with some over-lapping years, also served 25 years as director of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Supervisor and Worker Certification Program and a dozen years as a director with National Indian Child Welfare Association.